Philippe Myers

Flyers weekly observations: A telling attendance figure, a good problem, Egor Zamula and more

Flyers weekly observations: A telling attendance figure, a good problem, Egor Zamula and more

Thanks to four straight wins, the Flyers went into the NHL-mandated holiday break with plenty of good vibes.

They have the NHL's sixth-most points (47) and sit in third place of the Metropolitan Division (21-11-5).

Now the Flyers will look to build on those positives when they open a six-game road trip Saturday with a matchup against the Sharks (10:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

With some weekly observations, let's take a look at all things Flyers as the break wraps up:

• Monday night's attendance listed on the NHL's official game report was a season-best 19,776 for the Flyers. The atmosphere at the Wells Fargo Center had a playoff feel to it as the Flyers beat the Rangers, 5-1. Fans were loud and engaged from the opening puck drop.

Prior to Monday, just five home games ago, the listed attendance was an eye-opening 15,811 for the Flyers' 6-1 win over the Maple Leafs.

Sure, Monday was the day before Christmas Eve and the Flyers were playing a division rival with some New York fans in the house. But you can sense and see fans starting to buy back in because the on-ice product is building excitement. So many aspects factor into attendance figures — price of tickets, amenities in the arena, the opponent, the day of the week, the time of the year, etc.

Ultimately, though, the players on the ice will dictate fan support. Monday showed why it's improving and how it always steadily does when a team starts to win. The Flyers deserve credit for improving the on-ice product and giving fans a reason to be optimistic and intrigued.

During 2018-19, the Flyers went 19-18-4 in Philly, giving them their fewest home wins over a full season since 2006-07.

At home in 2019-20, the Flyers are 13-2-4, have the NHL's best points percentage (.789), allow the league's fewest goals per game (1.95) and score the second most per game (3.79).

As the season picks up, the Flyers are becoming a fun ticket for a fan base that, understandably, has been frustrated and needs convincing.

• The Flyers have a good problem: lineup decisions on defense.

Considering the injuries they've suffered at forward and what they went through in net last season, the Flyers will be happy to make difficult calls on who to play each night among a competitive crowd of blueliners.

When Philippe Myers sits a game or two as a healthy scratch, it can be a positive. The Flyers haven't had this type of depth on defense in a while.

In 2017-18, Travis Sanheim was in a similar situation as Myers. It did not prove detrimental at all to his development or career.

• The more you see prospect Egor Zamula, the more you tip your cap to Flyers amateur scout Mark Greig.

Zamula, a long, mobile and skilled defenseman, scored two goals in Russia's 4-3 loss to Czech Republic during Day 1 of the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The 19-year-old went undrafted and Greig is a big reason why he's in the Flyers' prospect pool. Zamula (6-4/170) is a point-per-game player for the WHL's Calgary Hitmen (seven goals, 21 assists in 28 games) and owns a plus-19 rating.

He'll be in the professional picture next season.

• To finish off December, the Flyers play three teams at the bottom of the Western Conference — Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

Then, the Flyers will get a good test in January when nine of their 11 games come against teams currently in a playoff spot.

 

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Shayne Gostisbehere returns, Philippe Myers comes out and competition is brewing on Flyers' blue line

Shayne Gostisbehere returns, Philippe Myers comes out and competition is brewing on Flyers' blue line

Claude Giroux said on Monday that "in-house competition is always good."

The Flyers have it brewing on the blue line.

Much of the internal competition has to do with Robert Hagg seeing the ice and playing well. The stay-at-home defenseman drew into the lineup because Shayne Gostisbehere's offensive game has fallen short of expectations.

Over the past three games in which Gostisbehere was a healthy scratch, Hagg played physically, blocked seven shots and the Flyers allowed only five goals.

“Haggs has been playing really well, probably played his best game since I’ve been here last game in Columbus — blocked shots, made a big play on a 2-on-1 toward the end of the game, so I want to keep him in," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said before Friday's game against the Red Wings.

But the Flyers have not lost belief in Gostisbehere's offensive abilities. He's a 26-year-old defenseman who scored 65 points in 2017-18. To see his strengths come back to life, he has to play. He entered the lineup Friday in place of Philippe Myers as the Flyers opened a back-to-back set to finish a 16-game November.

“I want him to play to his strengths," Vigneault said of Gostisbehere. "He’s a skilled defenseman, so beat the forecheck, make that good first pass, jump up in the play when the opportunity is there. The best and the toughest offense to defend is when you have that second wave, when you have your Ds being a part of the attack. He’s a smart player, he knows when it’s time for him to jump up.

"His defensive play has been fine, he’s battled, he’s competed, I like his 1-on-1s. He’s got to play to his strengths, he’s aware of that and hopefully he does that for us.”

Myers, 22, has not played poorly. The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder has six points (three points, three assists) and a plus-9 mark in 13 games. However, Hagg has played well, the schedule is jam-packed and Vigneault wants to spark Gostisbehere.

"Nobody likes sitting out, there’s no doubt, and I would expect the guys to be a little upset, but at the end of the day, they’ve got to keep themselves ready for the team," Vigneault said. "The team at some point is going to need them. I want to get Ghost back in, at some point we’re going to need Phil and we’re going to expect him to be ready and jump back in.

“We’ve got seven healthy D right now.”

Which means players are fighting to suit up. That's not a bad thing.

Let the competition begin.

 

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Flyers pick up wild shootout win over Bruins, deliver early statement by sweeping back-to-back road set

Flyers pick up wild shootout win over Bruins, deliver early statement by sweeping back-to-back road set

BOX SCORE

Talk about guts.

This weekend was going to require some serious resolve and the Flyers showed just how different they might be in 2019-20.

Alain Vigneault's team swept a back-to-back road set in Toronto and Boston after picking up another heart-stopping victory, this one a 3-2 shootout decision Sunday night over the Bruins at TD Garden.

Joel Farabee scored the lone tally in the skills competition as the Flyers went to the shootout for the fifth time this season. In 2018-19, the Flyers went to the shootout only four times.

The Flyers (10-5-2) have a season-best four-game winning streak, six-game point streak and are 8-2-1 since Oct. 21. The team's 10 wins through 17 games marks the quickest it has reached double-digit victories in a season since 2011-12, when the Flyers started 10-4-3 and last won a playoff series.

Prior to the loss, the Bruins (11-3-3) were scoring 4.13 goals per game at home and had won seven of their first eight games at TD Garden.

• This was a statement weekend for the Flyers. The Maple Leafs can absolutely blitz teams at home and the Bruins are as scary as any NHL club right now.

For the Flyers to grab early leads, hold off late surges and win two games after regulation on the road like that says a lot.

Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Kevin Hayes went scoreless over the weekend and the Flyers still pulled off the back-to-back wins. That's a major positive.

• Carter Hart was spectacular in turning away Boston late in the third period, when the Bruins were furiously pushing. Boston, with the NHL's best power play, went on the man advantage with 3:20 left but Hart kept it at bay. He also denied David Pastrnak on a penalty shot. Hart stayed focus despite the Bruins erasing the Flyers' 2-0 lead in the final stanza.

The 21-year-old is 3-0-0 in three career games against Boston. He is also 4-0-0 with 104 saves on 112 shots over his last four starts. It's safe to say the kid has his confidence back.

• Pastrnak had not gone scoreless in a home game this season, with 17 points in eight contests at TD Garden.

The Flyers held him scoreless.

• Ever since the season opener in Prague, Czech Republic, there has been no slowing down Travis Konecny.

The 22-year-old dynamo delivered his fourth multi-point game with a goal and an assist. With eight goals and 11 assists, Konecny has more points than Mark Scheifele, Artemi Panarin, Sidney Crosby, Johnny Gaudreau, Mitchell Marner and Patrice Bergeron.

Konecny has scored in 14 of the Flyers' 17 games. It's the most consistent we've seen him as a pro (see story).

 

• Good stuff from the Flyers in the discipline department. 

The Bruins entered with 12 man advantage goals at home, more than what 17 NHL teams had overall on the power play. The Flyers needed to stay out of the penalty box in Boston and, for the most part, they did, committing just two penalties. Over their last three games, the Flyers have allowed the opposition only five power play opportunities.

That's one way to improve your penalty kill — not use it as much.

• The Flyers are starting to jump on teams in the first 20 minutes, which is refreshing considering all the sluggish starts to games that plagued the team in recent years past.

Last season, the Flyers were forced to constantly play from behind. They allowed the NHL's second-most first-period goals (94) and finished with a minus-31 goal differential during the opening stanza.

Over their last four games, the Flyers have outscored the opposition 6-0 in the first period. Setting the tone has helped the Flyers dictate pace and play Vigneault's style.

• Sean Couturier had two assists and was a plus-2 in a tough matchup.

• Philippe Myers has put up three goals in the last three games — all in the first period. His mobility and offense from the blue line have been fun to watch. He also saved a goal in the third period.

What a superb start for the 22-year-old, who has three goals, four points and a plus-7 rating in six games since being called up from AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

 

• The Flyers are off Monday and practice Tuesday in Voorhees, New Jersey, before welcoming the Capitals Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN).

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